Political Science Bachelor of Arts (BA)

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Major requirements for Political Science Bachelor of Arts (BA)

Sample four-year projection [pdf] 

The BA degree program offers Political Science students a wide range of opportunities to study the many dimensions of politics and government, including elections and electoral behavior, legal and judicial politics, foreign policy and war, political economy and development, the political implications of race, gender and ethnicity, and the moral and ethical issues associated with democracy, global justice, and human rights. 

Students take at least one course in each of the four main subfields of the discipline: American Politics (the study of political behavior and institutions in the United States), Comparative Politics (the study of non-US political behavior and institutions), International Relations (the study of relationships between states) and Political Theory (the study of the concepts and values that inform political life).

Students also choose an area of specialization in which they take at least four courses. Students may specialize in one of the four traditional subfields of the discipline (American Politics, Comparative Politics, International Relations and Political Theory), or in one of the following thematic specializations:

1) Democracy and law

This specialization focuses on the workings of democratic institutions:  how they are designed, how they influence political outcomes, and how they perform in different social and historical contexts.  You will learn how institutions shape individual behavior, how political, economic, and social institutions work together and how political values and ideals are given concrete legal form.

2) Political identities and allegiances

How does who you are – your gender, race, ethnicity, religion, and nationality – matter in politics?  This specialization examines how individual and group identities are created and how they shape political decisions ranging from how to vote to whether to join a revolution.  You’ll develop critical thinking, writing and speaking skills and learn how to gather and synthesize information, develop hypotheses, and draw inferences about the causes and consequences of political behavior.

3) Political economy and development

This specialization is designed to help you better understand the political dimensions of economic policy.  You will learn how to analyze the complex relationships between state and economy both domestically and internationally and to assess competing theories about the causes and consequences of globalization, and gain a theoretical and historical understanding of the development of domestic and international political and economic institutions.

4) Cooperation, conflict and violence

This specialization addresses the origins of violent conflict and the sources of cooperation and stability at both the domestic and international levels.  You’ll acquire critical and analytical tools that are needed to promote peaceful conflict resolution, stable and inclusive political institutions, and more effective global governance and diplomacy.

5) Inequality and justice

This specialization focuses on the values that structure political life and the ways in which those values are shaped by and embodied in political institutions.  Learn how political ideals such as democracy, freedom, justice and human rights have been defined in different ideological traditions and different historical contexts, and how these ideals inform individuals’ understandings of what their interests are.

6) Political leadership and reform

This specialization is designed to build the skills that are necessary to organize and lead successful campaigns for political change.  Through comparative, historical, policy and case-study analyses, you’ll learn how to organize political campaigns and movements, how to build coalitions with like-minded allies, and how to translate ideals into policies and solutions.

7) Political analysis

All social-scientific inquiry appeals to concepts, values and empirical claims about the world that are contestable in principle and are often contested in fact.  This specialization will train you in the analytical, conceptual and methodological skills necessary to critically evaluate such claims and to apply them intelligently to the study of political life.

8) American Politics

This subfield of political science studies political behavior and institutions in the United States. 

9) Comparative Politics

This subfield of political science studies political behavior and institutions beyond the United States.

10) International Relations

This subfield of political science focuses on relationships between states.

11) Political Theory

This subfield of political science examines the concepts and values that inform political life.


A political science major will prepare students for a wide range of career opportunities in law, business, political analysis and consulting, public policy, secondary and higher education, journalism and many other fields. For more information on careers in political science, click here


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